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Work Samples

The Ball Story

Clear gazing ball in flower garden
This is a portrait of the 12" glass ball that I use in my work. In 2005 I purchased a clear glass gazing ball as a gift for my husband. We installed it in the back corner of our yard. I was fascinated by the way the sphere reflected the environment, both distorting the landscape and splitting the light spectrum. I have been photographing with this ball ever since.

Nature Portraits Book

Cover of Nature Portraits book
I was invited to do an exhibition of my work at Chadron State College in Nebraska . I wanted to create a soft cover book of images to accompany the show. A friend had recently created a book of her images on Blurb. So, I decided to try my hand at it. The book is now available at Fleckenstein and Y: Art Galleries in Baltimore.


About Cathy

Baltimore County

Cathy Leaycraft has been photographing for over 35 years. In 1976 she moved to the Baltimore area, where she resides today.  At that time she was working with other artists creating Video Documentaries. This led her to the study of still photography, which she started at the University of Delaware and continued at the Maryland Institute College of Art.   Today she uses reflected and refracted light to create a unique viewpoint before she even snaps the shutter. Her companion on this journey... more

Reflected Landscape

My current artistic focus is on the use of a glass sphere to create layered images of landscape. Put simply, I use a hollow glass ball. It is about twelve inches round and made of clear blown glass. I do not directly photograph the landscape. I photograph its reflection on the glass surface; the environments behind and below the sphere create additional layers of imagery.

When doing a photo shoot, I choose a location that I think will produce intriguing imagery. It could be a garden, a beach, or a friends yard. Once I am there, I set up my “glass studio” on the ground and begin exploring potential images. I move my body and camera around while looking through the viewfinder. In this work, I have shunned computer manipulation in favor of manipulating light and reflection, before it reaches my camera.

I strive for a dreamlike quality, and a sense of timelessness.

  • Side Yard

    yellow house and lawn chair
    This image was taken in the yard of the house my husband and I were renting on Monhegan Island, Maine.
  • Trees Knees

    tree roots and vines
    This image was taken at Adkins Arboretum in Maryland. I was on the ground in a somewhat swampy area that bordered a pond. The dark brown bulges are tree roots.
  • Yellow Dawn

    abstract view of trees, sky, and back of chair
    This image was taken early in the morning in my backyard. My glass sphere was on a pillow that had been in the seat of an Adirondack chair. The chair is also in the image.
  • Copper Globe

    distorted boats and rigging
    This image was taken on the boat dock in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I was able to get to the area where the boats were tided up because it was December and off season.
  • Tears at Dawn

    tree limbs, yellow sky, drops of water
    This image was taken in my backyaed. The "tears" were created by condensation on the glass.
  • Mouth to Mouth

    yellow and red outdoor shower buildings
    This image was taken in the fenced in deck surrounding a friends cottage in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The "mouths" are really one life preserver reflected twice in my sphere.
  • Vortex

    twigs and sky
    This image was taken on the dunes along the Ceader Woods Trail in Peovincetown, Massachusetts. I think of this image as a spiritual tribute to women who bring life into the world.
  • Lobster's View

    blue water-sky surrounded by rocks and a small looking red house
    This image was taken at the water's edge amoung the rocks on the shoreline at Fish Beach on Mongegan Island, Maine. The ball was in a puddle of water amoung the rocks. I am visable along the rocks on the right.
  • Eye Lash

    tree branches, yellow sky, and redish spike like lines
    This image was taken at Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore. The "lashes" across the "eye" shape were created by the pattern in a cut glass bowl placed under my glass sphere.
  • Enter the Wreck

    Distorted image of ship wreck
    This image was taken inside a boat wreck at Lobster Cove on Monhegan Island. I crawed inside with my camera and sphere.

Nature Portraits

I am a photographer of landscape. There is a long tradition in the portrayal of landscape. While I am rooted in that tradition, my approach is not traditional.

The unusual look of my photographs is created by the use of a glass sphere. I do not directly photograph the landscape. Put simply, I use a hollow glass ball. It is about twelve inches round and made of clear blown glass. My images are created by inserting objects into my glass sphere. These objects then find themselves surrounded by layers of imagery (distorted landscape beyond and beneath the glass).

When doing a photo shoot, I set up my “glass studio” on the ground; I insert my subject, and begin exploring potential images. I move my body and camera around while looking through the viewfinder.

In this work, I have shunned computer manipulation in favor of manipulating light and reflection, before it reaches my camera.

  • Red Leaf

    red leaf with stairway background
    This image was taken at the bottum of a wooden fire escape behind the apartment where we were staying on Monhegan Island. I found the leaf on the ground nearby.
  • Turkey Tail

    a line of mushrooms in the woods
    This image wae taken at Adkins Arboretum, Ridgely, Maryland. It features a line of Turkey Tail mushrooms growing on a dead branch.
  • Stone Trio

    three stones on a dark field with blue sky
    This image was taken during one of our visits to Provincetown. These stones were collected by my husband while we were walking along the beach. I barrowed them briefly for this photo shoot.
  • Purple Vetch

    the flower of a Purple Vetch vine
    This vine is prolific on Monhegan Island. It was unfamillar to me, so, I looked it up in a wildflower book when I got home.
  • Feather

    Feather in field of blue
    This was my first feather image. I found this slightly weathered feather in my yard near the bird feeder.
  • Finally Spring

    a cluster of white flowers with dryed leaves and sky
    During an early spring visit to the Rehoboth Art League in Delaware, I walked around the neighborhood capturing sighns of spring.
  • Hosta Bud

    Hosta bud in swirls of sky
    Some plants on Monhegan Island have developed distinctive characteristics due to the 10 mile distance from the main land. This hosta bud was unusually large.
  • Andrea's Feather

    feather slashing diaginally through sky and into trees
    This image was taken in my friend Andrea's yard. She offered me a couple of feathers from her collection and this one created a striking image.
  • Red Thistle

    red flower on stem with greenery
    We recently moved and a friend brought us a bouquet of flowers. This thistle was in the arrangement.
  • Monhegan Gold

    Goldenrod in fields of color
    On Monhegan there is a ritual. As a tourist boat pulls out of the Harbor, brave soals throw flowers and jump into the water. This island Goldenrod is often amoung the flowers picked for this occation.

Tiny Toys

Since the end of 2005 I have been exploring the use of a clear glass ball in my photography. Until this year, landscape and plant life have been my primary focus, with an occasional glimpse of human habitation. However, this past year (2016)I decided I needed some new subject matter.

My introduction to this new subject matter started when I was asked to participate in an exhibition featuring the nude. I had not photographed a nude figure since the 80’s, and knew that my 12” ball with a 1” opening would not accommodate a full sizes human being, so, I started thinking of miniature human replicas. I ended up photographing a tiny plastic baby purchased at Party City. While this image did not make the show, it sparked an interest in tiny replicas available in supermarkets, toy stores, and tourist shops.

Because the opening in my ball is 1” wide, I began carrying a tape measure in my bag, so I could measure a potential subject to see if it would fit through the opening. Traveling introduced me to the fun of combing through tourist shops looking for the perfect object to slip down the hand blown neck and into the belly of my glass sphere.

Just when I thought I had finished exploring all the possible options, this new subject matter has inspired me to keep pushing the boundaries of a 12” clear glass ball.

  • Green Lizard

    Green Lizard
    This green lizard came in a bag bundled with other brightly colored reptiles. I photographed it on the park grounds of the Washington County Art Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.
  • Truck

    Dan (my husband) bought this little truck for me as a surprise gift from a shop in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I photographed it at the Rehoboth Art League.
  • In the Beginning

    Plastic baby in abstract environment
    This plastic baby started it all. It was the first tiny toy to be photographed for this project. I took this image in my backyard. The baby was purchased at Party City.
  • Ant's Contemplation

    Black ant looking into blue field
    This black ant was in a bag with other colorful imitation insects. I photographed it in the garden of the Rehoboth Art League.
  • Blue Dolphin

    Blue plastic dolphin under water
    I thought this blue fish was a shark until someone informed me that it was a dolphin. I photographed it when I was on Monhegan Island, Maine this summer. I placed my dolphin-containing sphere in a puddle between the rocks at low tide.
  • Chinese Bridge

    Chinese Bridge over reflections
    I purchased is object from an import store in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The reflections in my backyard made the perfect streambed.
  • Fallen Blue Bird

    Painted wooden blue bird lying on it's side
    This blue bird is carved out of wood and painted. It was designed as an ornament, but I cut off the loop. I purchased it in Wellfleet, Massachusetts from the Left Bank Gallery. It would not sit upright, so it’s a fallen bird.
  • Mermaid Goodbye

    Green toy mermaid waving goodbye
    I found a package of two mermaids hanging in the isle of the Giant Supermarket; one was red and the other green. I photographed this green mermaid in my sphere at low tide between the rocks. We were preparing to leave, so she is waving goodbye.

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